Denny Hamlin ended the iRacing series the same way he started — with a victory. Hamlin, who won the opening race seven weeks ago at Homestead-Miami, captured Saturday’s virtual contest at North Carolina’s North Wilkesboro Speedway.
The North Carolina race track was an original layout for NASCAR drivers, opening in 1949. It held its last NASCAR race in 1996. The facility fell into disrepair, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. led a group of volunteers to clean up the track so it could be laser scanned by iRacing and used for Saturday’s contest.
Hamlin said it was an honor to win the last virtual race of the series at the iconic layout. NASCAR drivers return to live racing next Sunday at Darlington, S.C.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) May 9, 2020
“Winning the first race and the last iRacing event is significant,” Hamlin said. “It’s good for my team and my sponsors. It’s all equal, it’s about who can hone their craft in iRacing. You have to use the same techniques in iRacing like in real life. It’s not like playing Madden or NBA2000. I feel pretty good where I’m at as a driver. Certainly, there’ll be some confidence that will spill over for a few weeks.”
Hamlin Bumps Chastain for Victory
Hamlin was running behind the leaders heading into the final laps, but with four fresh tires on his virtual ride, was able to chase down leader Ross Chastain. He bumped Chastain out of the way and took the lead, going on to the victory.
“I knew we had the fastest car, it was just getting through traffic,” Hamlin said. “We got into an early incident, had to use the (reset) right off the bat, so that wasn’t advantageous for us but we were able to methodically make our way back up to the front.”
North Wilkesboro Speedway Results/Odds
- Denny Hamlin (11/2)
- Timmy Hill (3/1)
- Tyler Reddick (60/1)
- Ross Chastain (50/1)
- Austin Dillon (100/1)
- Garrett Smithley (13/2)
- Brennan Poole (125?1)
- Parker Kligerman (11/2)
- Kevin Harvick (40/1)
- Landon Cassill (14/1)
Chastain wasn’t too pleased with the move, paying Hamlin back with a bump of his own after the race was over. Hamlin, however, defended the tactic.
“We were two guys going for the same spot,” Hamlin said of the incident. “I got a good run on him off Turn 2 and as soon as he saw I was going low, he pulled down the straightaway to try and block and we both just let off the gas at the same time. I got a good run on him. He saw I was going to be inside. Obviously he did his best to try to block there. As you could see, when I got into the back of him, I immediately checked up to try to let him catch it.”
No Remote Chance of Technical Problem
Three weeks earlier at the virtual race at Talladega, Hamlin was challenging for the lead when he suffered a technical problem and his screen went blank. After a little investigation, he discovered the source of the problem; his daughter had entered the room with a remote control and had inadvertently turned off his simulator.
Last week, Hamlin made sure there would be no such occurrence.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) May 3, 2020
After his victory, Hamlin celebrated in a humorous style.
🏁🏁🏁 Virtual victory lane was loud! pic.twitter.com/juJNJNeWsT
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) May 9, 2020